Dr Tessa Lewis, GP and chairwoman of the antimicrobial prescribing guidelines group, said: “If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough, we would expect the cough to settle over two to three weeks and antibiotics are not needed.”
“People can check their symptoms on NHS Choices or NHS Direct Wales or ask their pharmacist for advice.
“If the cough is getting worse rather than better, or the person feels very unwell or breathless, then they would need to contact their GP.”
As many as one in five GP prescriptions for antibiotics may be inappropriate, according to research published by PHE earlier this year.
The body has warned that overuse of the drugs is threatening their long-term effectiveness.
Dr Susan Hopkins, from PHE, said: “Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use.
“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated.”
Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE said: “We are keen to highlight that in most cases, antibiotics will not be necessary to treat a cough. We want people to be offered advice on alternatives that may help ease their symptoms.
He said: “This guideline gives health professionals and patients the information they need to make good choices about the use of antibiotics. We encourage their use only when a person is at risk of further complications.”
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